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Labelling people as bigots is clearly unproductive, considering we elected one

Taking down people like Trump, Ann Coulter requires more than name-calling, shaming

· Feb 2, 2017 Tweet

Courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore

If you don’t know of Ann Coulter and the work she does, then I hope all is well under the rock, but this column may not be very relevant to you. But because it is more likely everyone reading this has some idea of who Coulter is, and has at least a slight orientation with her opinions, let me preface my thoughts by saying this: I, myself, am liberal and have been guilty on multiple occasions of the criticisms I am about to make. So, before you close this window to draft that seething email aimed at my obvious ignorance and bigotry, try to hear me out.

No matter your take on Coulter’s opinions, you cannot deny her influence. She has more than a million followers on Twitter, a multitude of best-selling books and a seemingly ubiquitous presence in current media.

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Having said that, mostly everything she says or writes pretty much tops the list of things I disagree with. Not only do I frequently disagree with her, but it is frequent that I find something she says to be detestable. I will admit the thought has crossed my mind that she occasionally hands over her computer to a small monkey, lets him go to town and then hits publish.

Regardless of how accurate or inaccurate my assessment of Coulter’s writing process may be, liberals need to learn their lesson from President Donald Trump and start treating Coulter & Co. with the attention they so unfortunately warrant.

As mean, loud, ill-informed or wrong as she often is, she also has a myriad of followers that will endorse and believe just about anything Bubbles the chimp thinks up. Take the recent Screen Actors Guild awards, for example. Coulter took the opportunity to tweet:

As ridiculous as you may find this, click on the link and scroll through the comments, and you’ll find not everyone disagrees with her.

As if that weren’t enough, Coulter boldly predicted Trump had the best shot of winning the presidential election in June 2015. There is no denying she has her finger on the pulse of many Americans. She knows how to rally her followers, and they’re not in short supply. Blowing her off as a racist isn’t going to work anymore.

Now, it is of critical importance to note when I say “take her seriously” I do not mean seriously considering her proposals or ideas. Quite the opposite. Taking her seriously means putting in time and effort to craft an argument against her, to actually engage her. It means developing and perfecting a refute so carefully constructed that the only possible thing it could do is eviscerate the latest of her proposals. A hand wave, a little chuckle and slapping on a label of racist, bigot or idiot isn’t going to cut it.

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A recent article’s headline grabbed my attention today. It read “Soledad O’Brien Destroys Ann Coulter by Calling Her a Nazi Apologist.” This absolutely did not destroy Coulter, mostly because she, of course, is not a Nazi apologist. What it did was fire up her supporters even more, and that fire is exactly what propelled those people to the polls and, ultimately, what won Trump the presidency. While liberals were busy obsessing over “Hamilton,” policing Halloween costumes and laughing about what an idiot Coulter is, Trump’s angry army was out getting him elected.

What liberals must understand is while Coulter may occasionally put forth an idiotic opinion or policy proposal, she is not an idiot. She is an expert polemicist, a gifted writer and a skilled debater. While I completely disagree with most everything that comes out of her mouth, we all need to face the facts.

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Finally, and most importantly, this column is not just about Coulter. It could be your neighbor, your teacher, your friend or your grandma. Whoever it is, they have real feelings and opinions about these issues too, and even though they may be wrong, if we want to make any progress with them there is only one route.

Don’t just tell them they are wrong. Tell them why, and engage in a debate or discussion. Make an argument for your side, and aim to destroy your opponent with it, so long as it is based in fact and reason. If we keep blowing off the Coulters of the world as racists or bigots, refusing to engage them because of how far “below” us they are, they have made it perfectly clear to what lengths they are willing to go to be heard.

So, next time you brush someone off as a lowly bigot, lean back in the saddle of your high horse and take a second to realize that by doing so, you helped get one elected.

Kort Driessen ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in neurobiology.